From the time babies are born, they begin to learn about the world around them. How your child speaks, plays, and acts can give you clues to how well he or she is learning. Not every baby develops the same skills at the same time. However, you can look for milestones around certain ages to ensure your baby is learning essential developmental skills.
Look for the following milestones in your infant to ensure he or she is developing properly.
1 – 4 Months
In the first few months of life, a baby relies on reflexive behaviors to function. For instance, most babies naturally know how to suck from the moment they are born. This sucking reflex allows a baby to drink milk needed to survive. As babies get older, they often have to put more thought into making these actions occur. However, your baby will likely display mostly reflexive behaviors in these first few months.
Most one-month-old babies have the reflexes required to find and drink the milk provided to them. When an object touches a one-month-old baby’s mouth, they should naturally suck on that item. Infants also have a rooting reflex that causes them to turn their head when something touches their cheek.
Once your child reaches two months old, he or she should also develop a grasping reflex. This reflex allows babies to hold onto an object when it’s placed in the palm of the baby’s hand.
In addition to these reflexes, babies should be able to do the following by four months old:
- Raise their head while laying on their stomach
- Focus on an object that is up to 12 inches away
- Show a preference to human faces over objects
- Respond to noises
- Bring toys to their mouth
Babies usually start to show more independence and act more responsive to the world around them once they are four months old. Your baby will likely show an interest in his or her surroundings and rely less on reflexive behavior by the end of the fourth month.
5 – 8 Months
Babies can usually see, hear, and touch better by the time they turn five months old. Motor skills you should look for at five months include rolling, grasping, and sitting up. Unlike in previous months, your baby can probably act intentionally rather than act based off of reflexes.
Most five- to eight-month-old babies can usually push their arms and arch their backs while on their stomachs. These movements often help babies learn to roll over and eventually crawl.
It’s a good sign if a seven-month-old baby can support his or her own weight, sit up unassisted, and roll from back to tummy and vice versa. Your baby may also be able to crawl when he or she is between 7 and 10 months old. When babies learn to crawl, they start to develop communication between both the left and right sides of the brain.
Keep in mind that some babies prefer to scoot on their stomachs rather than crawl. This army-type crawl is completely normal and usually leads into a normal crawl within a few weeks.
9 – 12 Months
When your baby reaches nine months old, consider childproofing your home. Most 9- to- 12-month-old babies are more mobile than ever before. Block stairways with baby gates and place locks on cabinets.
After babies master crawling, they should start pulling themselves to a standing position using furniture for support. Within a few weeks, babies will begin to walk using the furniture and eventually walk unassisted. Most babies take their first independent steps around 12 months.
Babies can also usually say at least one word by the time they turn one. This development starts with sounds like “ma,” which can eventually form into the word “mama.”
Remember that every baby accomplishes milestones at different times. If you’re worried about your baby’s development, consult your doctor. You may also want to consider signing your child up for an early childhood learning program to help him or her learn necessary skills.